Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Learning Curve

Wikipedia's definition of the learning curve is "a graphical representation of the changing rate of learning (in the average person) for a given activity or tool.  Typically, the increase in retention of information is sharpest after the initial attempts, and then gradually evens out."

Makes sense.  As a newcomer to the field of learning and development (and specifically, on-line course design) I feel that I soaked up a lot of information during this class.  Some of the teachings that really hit home with me are:

The Addie Model
The difference between Synchronous and Asynchronous training
The Ladder of Inference
Bloom's Taxonomy
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

As I prepare for my final presentation, I will be sure to be sensitive to the fact that people learn in many different ways and they learn more effectively if they are actively engaged.

I continued to read Wikipedia's definition . . .  "The learning curve can also represent at a glance the initial difficulty of learning something and, to an extent, how much there is to learn after initial familiarity."  Uh oh!  I suppose I still have a lot to learn!  So I look forward to continuing my NYU education in pursuit of my professional certificate in training and to much more learning beyond that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reaching the Learner in an On-Line Classroom

Last week in class we discussed Gardner's profile of multiple intelligences -- Howard Gardner of Harvard University identifies seven distinct intelligences.  Gardner's theory centers around the idea that students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform and understand in different ways.  The seven styles are as follows:

  • Visual-Spatial -- These learners think in terms of physical space.  They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery.  Tools include models, charts, photos, video and TV.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic -- This style involves use of the body.  These learners communicate well through body language and can be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning and role playing.
  • Musical -- These learners show sensitivity to rhythm and sound.  They love music but are also sensitive to sounds in their environments.  They might study better with music in the background  and can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics.  Tools might include music, radio, stereo.
  • Interpersonal -- This style involves interacting with others.  These students learn through interaction.  They have friends and empathy for others.  They can be taught through group activities.  Tools include telephone, video conference, and time/attention from an instructor.
  • Intrapersonal -- These are the most independent learners and are more in tune with their inner feelings.  They have a strong will, confidence and opinions.  Teaching methods would include independent study.  Tools for learning would include books, creative materials, privacy and time.
  • Linguistic -- These student have highly developed auditory skills and think in words.  They enjoy reading and playing word games.  They can be taught through encouraging them to say and see words.
  • Logical-Mathematical -- These learners think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships.  Teaching methods would include logic games and mysteries.  They first need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with further details. 
I find this theory quite interesting as I embark in the new direction of on-line course designer/instructor.  As I begin to develop courses and modules to train associates in my organization, I need to remember that people learn in different ways but can also learn in multiple ways.  Gardner's theory says that individuals are all able to learn through these seven intelligences, but learners differ in the strengths of these intelligences.

When I consider my personal learning style, I would say I would lean more toward Interpersonal.  I have always learned best by interaction and doing.  I would describe myself as social and one who has a sensitivity towards others.  My learning experience in the classroom has been more successful with an instructor who encourages interaction among the students.  Not that I cannot learn independently (like by reading) but the concepts tend to stick with me more solidly when interaction is involved.

It has been most helpful for me to become aware of these intelligences and that I need to first understand my audience and have defined objectives for my learning material in order to fully engage my class.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Assignment for Day 2

In today's business world there are so many advantages to delivering training online.  Companies with a global (or even just domestic) presence can save both time and money by utilizing the web for their training.  Online training eliminates the need to incur expensive travel, does not require a dedicated training room, and can unite employees who work in different time zones.

As an online facilitator, this environment does pose some challenges that a trainer in a live instructor-led environment might not encounter:
  1. It is essential that the facilitator actively engage each student.  Because the class in not all physically in one place, the use of polling, breaking the class down into sub-groups to encourage collaboration, and offering each student the opportunity to comment on a regular basis is critical in keeping the attention of each learner.
  2. Visuals play a key role in an online training environment.  Since the facilitator can not engage the student with body language or the use of a flip chart, the slides presented during online training need to be visually effective in drawing in the audience.  They should be simple, but project an accurate image of what the trainer is trying to communicate.
  3. Lastly, for the on-line facilitator, building trust with their class is critical.  Since the learner cannot easily read the expression on the face of the trainer, the learner needs to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions to the virtual classroom community.  And because many of their views will be projected not verbally, but in a written form, it is that much more important that the student trusts that their views will respected and valued, not just by the facilitator, but the entire class.
In conclusion, and particularly based on my experience with our present e-learning NYU class, I feel that an on-line learning environment can be extremely productive and educational as long as the learners are encouraged to contribute, visually engaged, and can trust that the facilitator will be respectful of their answers and opinions and that that respect will be generated among all students in the on-line classroom.  My experience with our current class has been extremely positive so far -- it is the first on-line class I have ever taken.  And at the end of the session, it is a treat not to have to run to Grand Central Station to catch the train home!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Assignment for Day 1

Well I did it -- I created my own blog.  Actually, it wasn't as hard as I had thought.  I tried to customize my page to make it somewhat original.  I'm looking forward to our next class and seeing the other blogs.